If you live in NYC, you’ve seen LEVY’s name around. From light poles in LES to Village Voice boxes on 14th street, these fellas have managed to get their name everywhere, but until recently, only a few had taken the time to figure out what the band sounded like. As we all know, it’s a dicey thing to be billed as a NY band and it’s a tough town to make an impact on. LEVY’s been popping up all over the old blogosphere of late, including the ever-lovin Scenestars and playing a Music For Robots-sponsored show this summer. I’ve seen the band play a handful of times to varying amounts of people, but last Saturday, LEVY rocked a full room at Mercury Lounge and it felt like the show of a band that has arrived.
LEVY writes perfect pop songs. Lead title track and live show staple “Rotten Love,” is a sweet song about love gone sour – in fact, most of the songs on their debut is about love lost, love wronged, love gone astray…well, you get the idea. But the brilliance is in the fact that you can listen to the album over and over, even sing along if you like, but until you really think about the lyrics, you don’t realize your singing such sad words. From the Beatles pleading for love in “Love Me Do,” to the upbeat “Where Did Our Love Go,” by the Supremes, LEVY follows in the great tradition of turning heartbreak into two-minute pop songs.
LEVY live is an entirely different experience from listening to the record on your headphones. There’s something so immediate about the LEVY show, a bite that is missing from their recordings. There’s a vague feeling that there’s something menacing just below the surface and on Saturday night, lead singer and namesake James Levy stood on the Mercury Lounge stage and seemed to challenge the audience to not fall in love with the band. Playing five tracks off Rotten Love (which you can currently pick up from iTunes and will hit the streets on September 13 courtesy of One Little Indian) and a handful of newer material, drummer Mike Jones propelled the show from behind his kit, adding a more bare-bones rock sound than what comes across on record. Flanking Levy is the ever-catchy lead guitar of Matthew Sisken and the inventive bass lines of James Broughel. Check out LEVY’s undeniable pop songs at their site and while you’re over there click over to the video section and check out the live vid of their performance of “On the Dance Floor,” filmed this spring during their Pianos residency.